The first sight of Palmyra is like a regiment of cavalry drawn up in a single line; but as we got nearer gradually the ruins began to stand out one by one in the sunlight, and a grander sight I have never looked upon, so gigantic, so extensive, so desolate was this splendid city of the dead rising out of, and half buried in, a sea of sand. One felt as if one were wandering in some forgotten world. [...]
So many travellers have described Palmyra that it is not necessary for me to describe it again, and I suppose that everybody knows that at one time it was ruled over in the days of its splendour by Zenobia, a great queen of the East. She was an extraordinary woman, full of wisdom and heroic courage. She was conquered by the Romans after a splendid reign, and the Emperor Aurelian caused her to be led through Rome bound in fetters of gold. The city must once have been magnificent, but it was now a ruin. The chief temple was that of the Sun. The whole city was full of columns and ruined colonnades. One of the great colonnades is a mile long. […] I wish we had taken ropes and ladders, planks to bridge over broken staircases, and a crowbar. We might then have thoroughly examined three places which we could not otherwise do: the Palace of the Pretty, the Palace of the Maiden, and the Palace of the Bride, the three best Tower Tombs.
Lady Isabel Burton
Palmyra, Syria, 1870
Source: Lady Isabel Burton & W.H. Wilkins, The Romance of Isabel Lady Burton, New York: Dodd Mead & Co., 1904, (first pub. 1897)